Texas 13-year-old on trial in killing of her 14-year-old friend
Four girls, all friends aged 13 and 14, met early to spend a long summer day together.
By the next morning on May 29, only three of the friends would still be alive.
Nylah Lightfoot, 14, died after being taken to John Peter Smith Hospital with stab wounds to her neck and chest after a fight at the Sycamore Center Villas apartment complex shortly before 3:30 a.m.
The murder trial for one of Lightfoot’s friends began Tuesday. The now 14-year-old suspect faces murder and aggravated assault charges. If found guilty of murder, she could get anywhere from probation to 40 years in prison, with the possibility of transfer to an adult prison at age 19, according to prosecutors.
The aggravated assault charge stems from the teen allegedly swinging a kitchen knife at one of her other friends who tried to stop Lightfoot’s killing, according to the girl’s testimony. The friend grabbed the arm of the assailant who continued to swing the knife around until the friend got scared and let go of her arm, the girl said.
Neither of Lightfoot’s two friends who testified Tuesday morning could remember exactly what the argument that led to the fatal stabbing was about. Only that it ended badly.
The friends described it as petty and silly. One witness said Lightfoot did not want the accused to spend the night at her house that night.
Lightfoot and the girl accused of stabbing her, who is not being identified because she is a minor, started arguing that afternoon and continued through the night and early into the next morning.
The accused and a mutual friend walked to Lightfoot’s apartment shortly after midnight and picked up some clothing and continued their argument in the parking lot, according to witnesses.
Three hours later, Lightfoot and another mutual friend walked to the suspect’s apartment with another bag of clothing, according to the testimony of Lightfoot’s 14-year-old friend.
“I was worried a little bit,” the 14-year-old said. “I thought it was unnecessary. They were having an argument about something. I didn’t think it was serious.”
They were exchanging clothing. The accused threw a bag of clothing at Lightfoot’s feet and that’s when the fight started, the 14-year-old testified.
“Me and another girl pulled them off of each other,” the witness said. “She and Nylah were cussing. As she (the suspect) walked into her house she said, ‘I’m going to kill this b----.’ I thought she was done with the fight.”
The two girls started to walk away, but Lightfoot wanted to return to get some more of her clothes, the witness said. Then the friend who was with the accused screamed for the other two girls to run, the witness testified. The suspect came out of her house with a kitchen knife and was walking toward Lightfoot, the witness said.
Lightfoot turned around to run but tripped over a curb, according to the testimony. As Lightfoot was getting up and was on her knees, the accused stabbed her twice in the neck, the witness said.
“I saw her get stabbed, twice,” the witness said. “Nylah was screaming and I was screaming. I ran over and pulled Nylah up. I called her (the suspect) stupid and she walked back into her house. I told her (the suspect’s) mom to get a towel. Some boys came from the store and tried to help. One of the boys went to get police. Nylah was trying to talk, but she couldn’t.”
Travis Valderas, a Fort Worth police officer called to the scene, started performing CPR and later paramedics took over, but according to Marc Krouse, a Tarrant County deputy medical examiner who testified later in the day, the injury was not survivable.
“It was a lifeless little girl,” Valderas said. “I have a little girl and my heart just broke for her.”
A witness who saw the fight between Lightfoot and the suspect on trial said her friend was not afraid.
“She (Lightfoot) was like, let her kill me,” the witness said.
Testimony is expected to resume Wednesday in the Tarrant County Juvenile Court.